Town looking for help to reduce waste stream

by beth on August 26, 2015

Town committees are seeking help in an effort to reduce Southborough’s waste.

The Green Technology and Recycling Committee is researching ways that other towns reduce their waste stream. The effort is in partnership with the Public Works Planning Board. Their plan is to survey other communities in our state to help identify best practices for our town.

Both committees are comprised of volunteers, and they are looking for more help. If you are interested in lending a hand, call the Green Committee at 508-481-3770.

Here is their press release with more details:

The Southborough Green Technology and Recycling Committee in a joint effort with the Public Works Planning Board has undertaken a survey of the waste management practices employed by Massachusetts communities. The goal of the survey is to report back to the Board of Selectmen on the management practices that could substantially reduce the operational cost of the Transfer Station and reduce the environmental impact of the waste stream generated by Southborough residents. The committee is asking residents of the town interested in contributing in this effort to contact the committee. 

Data from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection clearly indicates a substantial opportunity exists for improvement in the waste management practices at the Transfer Station. According to data collected by the Southborough Department of Public works, the average household served by the Transfer Station brings 2141 pounds of waste material to the facility each year. Of the 230 communities reporting data to the Mass DEP, the statewide average is 1513 pounds placing the households using the Southborough Transfer Station 40% above the state average. Communities having implemented the best practices recommended by the Mass DEP generate an average 1137 pounds per year.

The goal of the survey is to investigate communities with demographics similar to Southborough reporting better than average performance. The committee will visit communities who have implemented the best practices recommended by the Mass DEP and communities who have found other means for achieving better than average performance.

If you are interested in contributing to this effort, please contact the committee by calling 508-481-3770. A representative of the committee will contact you to discuss the planned survey in detail.

1 SAB August 27, 2015 at 9:39 AM

I think a great start would be for transfer station employees to enforce the recycling rules. I see so many items (like cardboard boxes) that could easily be recycled being placed in the trash.

2 Townie August 27, 2015 at 2:46 PM

If the town is seriously interested in reducing waste, it really REALLY needs to buckle down and look into contracting out waste removal.

SAB, it will be nearly impossible to enforce it. Accept the fact that there are people in the world what will throw everything into one bag. The DPW would have to pay more for more employees to police throwing out trash.

Places like Harvey, WM specialize in this very task. Sorting rubbish into like products to be recycled ultimately reducing waste. The town already spends money contracting Harvey to remove recyclables! Why not pay them to do it all?

Town Hall, BOS, Purple, DWP need to wake up and accept that this is the future and the town is FAR behind the curve. The pit is a thorn in the town’s side that will never go away. It’s out of date, wasteful, and expensive to maintain and it’s only going to get older and will eventual die. The only Pro’s I can think of is you can throw anything away in it, and it crates 1 job. It’s time for this town to start thinking responsibly for its residence and environment.

3 Ben August 28, 2015 at 7:25 PM

Townie: SAB is correct, just yesterday “Thursday” there was a van with a trailer dumping construction debris into the dumpster. What ever happened to the 30/40 gallon pail for each trip.? What’s the sense of having the cameras? What enforcement?

Why should we as a whole pay for someone’s renovation project it’s not fair to everyone else. They should of paid for the trash collection service with the job.

Same goes for the steel bin. I am to understand there is no money collected for the steel and aluminum and copper?
If they’re not going to receive any money for scrap then they shouldn’t continually destroy what’s there . Many people I have spoken including myself benefit from the stuff we find there.
The number of kids bikes,mowers/ weed eaters/power equipment and so on everyone wins. Why destroy it.?

Also while we were threatened with Swap shop closure due to lack of funding and entrance fees. Where were the monies appropriated for the gate on the steel bin/guard railing and three buildings we have yet to see any purpose for.

I also see things in the dumpster that have no place being there. I find it rather interesting where there are so many programs about recycling and “Keep it Green” ads’ there are still so many uneducated people in town.

4 Southville August 30, 2015 at 9:40 AM

As far as I know, the reason we can’t collect money for the “good” metal recyclables is because whoever takes them also has to take the bad and hard to recycle items there as well. If we don’t let them earn a few dollars for some of the items, they won’t have any incentive to take and recycle the other ones.

Also, I believe the three new buildings were donated, and are run mostly by habitat for humanity, not the town of Southborough, so there isn’t a cost to the town.

5 JMO August 31, 2015 at 9:29 PM

That’s not what I recall from town meeting concerning the 3 new buildings. It was presented that the 3 buildings would be built by a vocational school (I don’t remember which one) at a reduced cost using town funds. I don’t know if this part is true, but I was told that the buildings were never put into use as 3 swap shops as promised because the liability was too great due to the location being in the direct path of the trucks that haul away the recyclables. Habitat does have a large container near the metal pile.
It is kind of odd that the buildings were built and then no other information was ever released about their purpose or use. It would be great to find the real story because I seem to recall that the cost to build was somewhere around $36K.

6 Matthew September 1, 2015 at 2:30 PM

And even more good news is the three sheds are in driveway of the “proposed” site for the a new EMS and Police stations!!!

Another “OOPS!” for the DPW, not that anyone is counting…

7 Al Hamilton September 1, 2015 at 6:30 PM

Just to be clear, there is no definitive site chosen for the public safety facility. The Public Safety Building Study Committee is evaluating 2 potential sites. The existing site, and the DPW site. There has been no recommendation with respect to a specific location on either site.

Each site has issues and challenges. The existing site is small and will likely require some additional land to work. The DPW site has significant access issues for fire/ambulance equipment. The committee will be working with professionals in the next phase to advance and put more details together. The goal is to have a definitive plan to present to Town Meeting in the Spring for funding.

Regardless of the location and scope this will be the most expensive building program we have undertaken from a taxpayers perspective. The state is not going to share construction costs as it would with a school or library. If you are interested please come to our meetings, I believe that the Selectmen are also looking for volunteers to serve on the committee as it moves to the next phase.

Al Hamilton
Chair
Public Safety Building Study Committee.

8 Townie September 2, 2015 at 2:59 PM

Ben, I completely agree with all of what you have said. There’s no enforcement what so ever, even after spending money on camera’s and salaries to police resident’s on proper waste disposal. The sadly reality is, there are people in the world who will continue to take short cuts and throw everything away in the hopper, which will ultimately end up being compacted them incinerated, hurting our environment.

Which brings me back to why I hope the town takes a real hard look at curb side. Let the people throw everything in one bin that is brought to a facility that’s sole purpose is to separate resident’s rubbish into recyclables, thus reducing overall waste. The DPW has already posted a video on their facility and how high tech and efficient it is at doing that task.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PHdI3aWMMU

Southborough is far behind this curve. It’s time to go curb side and disassemble our aging, inefficient, wasteful transfer station.

9 Matthew September 2, 2015 at 6:22 PM

Could we please just move the swap shop closer to the hopper? We’ve got DPW staff dealing with that hot mess and not being available to monitor the hopper for illegal dumping. It’s not a matter of curbside vs the transfer station, it’s just a matter of putting the services next to each other that have a similar manpower requirement.

Have a shed moving company come and take one of the new sheds behind the recycling and put it in the center of the hopper building in those few parking spaces that are available. (The DPW guys are wasting time filling a front end loader with most of the crap anyway and driving it around to the hopper.)

They could even open up the hopper building to the rear of the relocated swap shop and have it open directly against the end of the hopper. That way a DPW worker can clean out the shed AND monitor hopper traffic.

Mark some spaces along the retaining wall for swap shoppers and move the brush dumping area about 20 feet closer to Cordaville. There is lots of room in that direction anyway and the front end loader could move enough earth to allow for more pavement and access.

THIS IS NOT A HARD PROBLEM TO SOLVE. I just don’t see any sign of planing or analysis of where labor is needed most. Moving one little building makes more sense than cameras, three sheds, and even curbside put together. (I cannot stand the mess, smell and noise of curbside pickup!)

The best advice for everyone is to understand that the crap you are dumping in the swap shop is actually, truly and undeniably crap. Folks should only leave the good stuff. We should get the DPW workers to define what they will not toss and then everyone else can throw out in the hopper what doesn’t match their description. We just have to hope that they don’t grab the good stuff for themselves first!

10 RBF September 1, 2015 at 5:57 PM

It is not surprising that Southborough is so far behind other communities in the area of waste stream management and recycling. There has been no support or leadership in this arena from the Board of Selectman or Town Administer arena for years. The town remains with an old system that is not fair, ecological or economical and then does not monitor or enforce the rules it does choose to put in place.
Credit to the Green Technology Committee for taking on this project as plenty of communities do get it right. We have just chosen not to be one of them. Maybe this time things will change.

11 Rubbish September 2, 2015 at 9:27 AM

I am pretty sure John Rooney has been vocal supporting PAYT (Pay As You Throw). This type of program would surely increase recycling and reduce waste. It could be better labeled :Think As You Throw!

12 Anne September 2, 2015 at 12:57 PM

Compost bins would be a nice feature to have. I saw some on the island of Lido in Italy that everyone used. The only thing is people could only put compostable waste in the bins…

13 Trixie September 4, 2015 at 8:52 AM

Matthew is so right about the swap shop. Probably 80% of the stuff left there should have gone directly to the hopper. I don’t see this improving now that we have “recycle only” stickers. People – nobody wants stuffed animals, broken stuff, dirty stuff, ancient textbooks, etc. etc.

14 Townie September 5, 2015 at 12:08 PM

It is mind boggling how every conversation about the transfer station gravitates towards the swap shop. This post is in regards to reducing waste that is thrown IN the hopper. Trixie, you mention the amount of, in your opinion, unwanted items in the swap show that should have ended up in the hopper, which would add to our 40% above average of lbs of waste thrown away. The hopper is the big issue of the transfer station. It needs to go away. Rubbish removal/recycling is too big for the DPW to handle in today’s day and age. Imagine the other items the DPW could concentrate on when employees do not have to deal with waste removal.

Here’s a challenge to MySouthborough readers. Reply to this comment below on pro’s and con’s of the hopper. I’ll start.

Pro’s of the Hopper:
It is convenient
You can throw nearly anything you want in it

Con’s of the Hopper:
Inefficient
Wasteful
Environmentally unfriendly due to waste being incinerated

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